A Brief History of the Southern California Aerospace Professional Representatives Organization
As prepared by John Reynolds, 2002 SCAPR President
The Southern California Aerospace Professional Representatives (SCAPR) organization began to emerge in late 1973 and began its formal existence in 1974. SCAPR represented a “rebirth” from a previously existing LA Reps organization that had functioned with sporadic success since the Air Force Western Development Command was established on Arbor Vitae Boulevard in Los Angeles to start the United States intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and space programs in the mid-1950s. With the establishment of WDC in Los Angeles, most aerospace firms transferred “seasoned” business development personnel from their Dayton offices to pursue contracts with this new Air Force organization.
The LA Reps began as an “offshoot” of the Dayton Reps that had long been an integral part of “life” at the Air Force laboratories and aircraft/weapon systems development activities centered at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. The Dayton Reps acted as an ad hoc professional organization that fostered an informal network to aide business development representatives in the performance of their jobs. The companies doing business in Dayton were comprised of aircraft prime contractors as well as subsystem and component suppliers and each of these companies had business development personnel representing them. These business development professionals were a company “face” to the customer and so, as a part of their responsibilities, each representative sought to develop personal relationships with the Air Force acquisition force, both military and civilian as well as their counterparts in industry. In non-competitive situations, these representatives often helped each other in gathering “G2”, but at other times competed fiercely against these same companies and people.
Not much changed in the move to Los Angeles nor has it changed with time. SCAPR members still use the networking opportunities afforded by our organization to develop teaming relationships, share information and otherwise facilitate many of the needs of their day-to-day job requirements. Oh, a couple of things did change. The names of the “watering holes” changed from various Dayton landmarks to The Cavalier, The Buggy Whip, Ye Old Shack and The Turtle Club, and now not many indulge in this extra curricular activity that was a big part of being a “two fisted marketer” but little else has changed in the “life of a BD guy.”
The founders of SCAPR incorporated important “lessons learned” from the defunct LA Reps to establish an organization that has grown from around fifty members to a maximum in the early 90s with over one hundred seventy-five individuals representing over seventy different companies doing business at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) in El Segundo. By 2009, company consolidations, mergers and buyouts resulted in a fairly stable SCAPR membership of 110-125 people.
Whereas the original LA Reps group functioned very informally with no Bylaws, no elected officers and each luncheon and speaker planned on an ad hoc “hit or miss” basis, SCAPR formalized it’s structure to assure that there was a consistent, planned program to continually provide relevant speakers from the government to keep the membership well informed on future and current space programs. LA Reps luncheons were handled on a pay as you go basis with no annual dues payment, which SCAPR changed to provide a more fiscally sound financial structure. The original SCAPR dues in 1974 were $15 per quarter.
Over the ensuing twenty-nine years SCAPR has made a number of changes in the Bylaws to facilitate keeping up with changes dictated by members, our customers, DOD acquisition regulations, and the business environment. The original Bylaws restricted the number and qualifications for membership. Memberships were limited to employees of aerospace firms and multi-company reps were not eligible. In 1981, the Bylaws were revised to limit the number of members from one company to three and members were required to have offices in LA. The number of memberships was also limited at that time to 120, with an associate member category created to allow participation to those that did not meet the stricter set of membership criteria. Associates could attend all meetings but could not vote or hold office.
However, in the mid 1980’s the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Organization (SAMSO) informed SCAPR that membership limitations would mean that they would no longer sanction approved AF luncheon speakers at SCAPR luncheons. The Bylaws were modified and all business development personnel from all companies, including multi-company representatives, were welcome to be SCAPR members. Another early change to the SCAPR Bylaws was to specify that memberships were personal not corporate—this is still true today. An inactive membership category was also created in the 1980’s to allow out of town members to continue receiving meeting notices and pay only for the luncheons that they were able to attend.
Over the years, we have used a number of different sites for the location of our monthly SCAPR luncheon meetings. In 1974, the meetings were held at the long since destroyed PSA Hyatt Hotel between the Forum and Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood. In 1975, the meetings moved to the Ramada Inn in Culver City. Subsequently meetings were held at the Hyatt (presently the Radisson) on Century Boulevard, the Proud Bird and, finally, for the past twelve or thirteen years at the Hacienda Hotel until the 2008 move to the Embassy Suites on Imperial.
SCAPR is different from and fills a unique role among the various National and local professional organizations that support SMC’s ongoing dialogue with its’ industrial partners and the community. The Air Force Association (AFA), the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) have different mission statements to support different interest groups. But all of these organizations are open to anyone including members of the press. SCAPR alone provides a non-attribution environment where speakers can talk candidly about their programs and related issues without fear of being directly or incorrectly quoted in the press. The open dialogue afforded by this type of venue allows government speakers to provide important information in a two-way communication to a broad industrial base to help insure that industry understands the governments’ needs and requirements.
Prepared in 2003, updates July 2009.